Dhoni pleased with lower-order resistance
This is the third overseas Test India have failed to close out, out of their last five. This wasn't as clear-cut an opportunity as Johannesburg and Wellington were, but the disappointments are piling up. Before the series began, Ajit Agarkar questioned India's ability to close out Tests away from home; many an Indian fan shares that doubt. However, MS Dhoni, not for the first time, chose to look at the positives, that the team at least got into a position from which they could force a result.
When asked if it was a big disappointment that from a winning position on day three, India went on to rely on Nos 7 and 8 to save the match, Dhoni said: "That's a part and parcel of the game, and it doesn't really matter who has scored runs or taken wickets because at the end of the day it is a team game and you go with the strategy of winning the game. It doesn't really matter if No. 11 is scoring the runs or No. 7 is scoring the runs. Overall, it is important that we have put runs on the board, and we need to defend that. But plenty of positives we can take out of this game."
One of the positives was the partnership between Ravindra Jadeja and Stuart Binny when India were just 145 ahead with four wickets in hand and two-and-a-half sessions to go. "That was a very important partnership looking at the game because we were not really safe at that time," Dhoni said. "We had at least half a day's play or more at that stage. Had it not been for that partnership we could have struggled to defend the amount of runs we had scored at that stage. That partnership was much needed.
"The other good thing about that partnership is that not many of our players have the experience of batting under pressure and save a Test match if the need arises. Games like this really gives them the exposure and teaches them what really needed to be done. I feel it is nice that some individuals stood up when the pressure was put on us."
Binny was part of an experiment that meant India were playing only five batsmen outside Asia for the first time under Dhoni's captaincy. He wasn't quick at judging how the move went, although he said the only change he felt with batting at No. 6 was that he had to change into his whites earlier than usual.
"The wicket was not suiting Stuart Binny's kind of bowling," Dhoni said. "Jadeja could use the rough on the wicket, so I was not really forced to give too many overs to Binny. So, overall I though it helped me to keep the bowlers fresh. Though Stuart bowled only 10 overs, I felt it was a good effort from his side. As the series progresses, we will watch him as he is someone who can swing the ball well, and can give rest to the other bowlers, and he will be more effective on pitches that offer some assistance to the bowlers."
The pitch was a soul-sapping patch, which annoyed the hosts no end because of its likeness to Indian surfaces, but Dhoni wasn't happy with it either. "I always said that when you come to a country you want to play on wicket that's the specialty of that country," Dhoni said. "You know, there's no fun in going to India and expecting flat wickets where people can score 200 or 250 runs. But it's very good if you score a hundred on a turning track. When you come out of India, you would like the wicket to be slightly quicker."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo